Time series-based bibliometric analysis of a systematic review of multidisciplinary care for opioid dose reduction: exploring the origins of the North American opioid crisis Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractBibliometric analyses of systematic reviews offer unique opportunities to explore the character of specific scientific fields. In this time series-based analysis, dynamics of multidisciplinary care for chronic pain and opioid prescribing are analyzed over a forty-four year time span. Three distinct periods are identified, each defined by distinct research areas, as well as priorities regarding the use of opioids and the appropriate management of chronic pain. These scientometrically defined periods align with timelines identified previously by narrative historical accounts. Through cross-correlation with a mortality time series, a significant two-year lag between opioid overdose mortality and citation dynamics is identified between 2004 and 2019. This analysis demonstrates a bidirectional relationship between the scientific literature and the North American opioid overdose crisis, suggesting that the scientific literature is both reflective and generative of an important health and social phenomenon. A scientometric phenomenon of memory lapse, namely an overt and prolonged failure to cite older relevant literature, is identified using a metric of mean time to citation. It is proposed that this metric can be used to analyze changes in emerging literature and thus predict the nature of clinical and policy responses to the opioid crisis, and thus potentially to other health and social phenomena.


  • Sud, Abhimanyu
  • Cheng, Darren K
  • Moineddin, Rahim
  • Zlahtic, Erin
  • Upshur, Ross

publication date

  • November 2021